The Economist is long respected and noteworthy publication about financial matters and many of their articles are of high quality and supported by evidence and expert assessment. Yet this article regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in my view diverges from their usual standards. Seemingly, financial acumen does not translate to reasonable inquiry and based upon substantial evidence their judgments are precipitous.
"Fifty years ago this week President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, a Castro-supporting communist who had learned to shoot straight while in the U. S. Marines." (The Economist)
This is incorrect, Oswald died before receiving a trial and the President's (Warren) Commission did not employ criminal standards; they used civil standards with a lower threshold of guilt. If Oswald were convicted in a court of law, he would be guilty and thus similar to any defendant accused of a crime he enjoys the presumption of legal innocence. This would also be a relevant consideration for all the many others alleged to have been responsible for the matter as well such as former American presidents.
Amendments of the United States Constitution protect "the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime which he is charged."i "The reasonable doubt standard plays a vital role in the American scheme of criminal procedure. It is a prime instrument for reducing the risk of convictions resting on factual error. The standard provides concrete substance for the presumption of innocence-that bedrock 'axiomatic and elementary' principle whose 'enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law."ii "In many past cases, this standard was assumed to be required one, but because it was so widely accepted only recently has the Court had the opportunity to pronounce it guaranteed by due process."iii iv Without consideration to reasonable doubt, officials built a case upon reduced legal standards and believed it would be sufficient.
Publicly Oswald was a professed Marxist (Communist) who joined the United States Marines and did not conceal his beliefs. He "defected" according to official files on Halloween of nineteen fifty-nine but Oswald's citizenship revocation is unprocessed despite his vocal intention to offer radar secrets to the Soviet Union.v This episode followed the Red Scare, those committing similar actions a few years prior faced damning accusations in the media and at least two related defendants were executed. However, Lee Harvey Oswald faces no public trial or legal charges for his prior actions.
The American State Department subsequently granted this declared traitor a loan to return with his new Soviet family and he does not face arrest.vi FBI and CIA agents monitored and contacted Oswald multiple times preceding the assassination but officials deny knowledge of him and his activities posing a possible security threat publicly.vii viii ix They suppressed evidence and a long history of files and Oswald's frequently encountering people related to domestic and foreign intelligence operations.
Some on the Warren Commission believed Oswald possibly worked for the FBI or CIA. Regarding the Bureau's possible involvement Allen Dulles stated he was “…confident that the FBI would never admit it, and I presume their records will never show it, or if their records do show anything, I would think their records would show some kind of numbers that could be assigned to a dozen different people according to how they wanted to describe them”.x Some Commissioners did not trust these organizations because each possessed a history of deceptive practices and both the CIA and FBI suppressed evidence, did not conduct thorough investigations, and their motivations for doing so is not clear in every instance.xi xii xiii
Oswald did undergo military rifle training but he did not use a rifle much outside the military and had no consistent practice for months before the assassination which likely renders him an improbable sniper.xiv xv How did he make the shots? A rifle is not a bicycle; it requires practice to utilize adequately, now further consider the weapon has questionable properties.xvi xvii By overlooking all these deficiencies the Economist provides less than full context to the matter.
"Books such as Gerald Posner's "Case Closed" have painstakingly debunked the various alternate theories: that he fell victim to multiple gunmen, elaborate plots involving the CIA, Mafia and who knows what other shadowy groups." (The Economist)
Despite the "painstaking" views of Mr. Posner, the case remains undecided because even the leaders of the FBI and CIA state the case would remain open forever.xviii xix To credit Posner despite his contentions that ignore primary evidence is premature and conspiracy advocates did not determine on the legal record the murderous intent of Mafia leaders, the House Select Committee on Assassinations did.xx The Economist article ignores the previous associations of the Mafia and the CIA regarding plots targeting Fidel Castro.xxi xxii
The "magic bullet", modern ballistics show, behaved normally. There was no second gunman. Nothing interesting happened on the grassy knoll." (The Economist)
These statements ignore the testimony of dozens of witnesses who heard shots near the fence atop the Grassy Knoll. Some observed smoke and movement on the Knoll as well, among them are Austin Miller, Thomas Murphy, Roberta Parker, Jean Newman, A. J. Millican, Bill Lovelady, Ronald Fischer, Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels, Ochus Campbell, Dorothy Garner, Danny Arce, and Officer Joe M. Smith.xxiii xxiv xxv xxvi xxvii xxviii xxix xxx xxxi xxxii xxxiii xxxiv Some important primary evidence contends the Economist's assumptions and those who fail to consider all the evidence dismiss official incompetence and obstruction.
"Yet the conspiracy theories live on, inspired by popular books such as Mark Lane's "Rush to Judgment", by Oliver Stone's preposterous movie "JFK" and endless speculation online." (The Economist)
While primary sources are not the basis of many conspiracy theories, this does not perpetually invalidate reasonable inquiry using official documents. If a group or person possessed motive, means, and opportunity, it is relevant and should those factors enjoy support from primary evidence, they render a conspiracy feasible. To judge all theories as impossible and leave significant evidence unconsidered is a biased approach. Without offering primary evidence and wholly unbiased sources, this article's contentions are unproven.
"Was Lyndon Johnson involved in a dastardly coup d'état, as Mr. Stone hints? Of course not. But half a century later, 61% of Americans believe in a conspiracy. Amazingly, this is the lowest level since the late 1960's." (The Economist)
The film JFK is a fictional drama, it does not represent the basis of most contentions, and to attempt using this film as a point of importance is troubling. Since it is fictional, it needs no rebuke and no reasonable person would state it qualifies as primary evidence. Perhaps focusing upon actual evidence will offer more insightful review and provide the opportunity for progress instead of endless debate over non-vital issues.
i. Regarding Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 364 (1970). Supplement: [P. 1761, add to n.83:] See also Sullivan v. Louisiana, 508 U.S. 275 (1993) (Sixth Amendment guarantee of trial by jury requires a jury verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt), Cornell University Law School- Legal Information Institute, law.cornell.edu
ii. Quotation from Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432, 453 (1895) ). Justice Harlan’s Winship concurrence, id. at 368, proceeded on the basis that inasmuch as there is likelihood of error in any system of reconstructing past events, the error of convicting the innocent should be reduced to the greatest extent possible through the use of the reasonable doubt standard., CULS, law.cornell.edu
iii. Miles v. United States, 103 U.S. 304, 312 (1881) ; Davis v. United States, 160 U.S. 469, 488 (1895) ; Holt v. United States, 218 U.S. 245, 253 (1910) ; Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 525–26 (1958) , CULS, law.cornell.edu
iv. In addition to Winship, see also Estelle v. Williams, 425 U.S. 501, 503 (1976) ; Henderson
v. Kibbe, 431 U.S. 145, 153 (1977) ; Ulster County Court v. Allen, 442 U.S. 140, 156 (1979) ; Sandstorm v. Montana, 442 U.S. 510, 520–24 (1979) . On the interrelated concepts of the burden of the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and defendant’s entitlement to a presumption of innocence, see Taylor v. Kentucky, 436 U.S. 478, 483–86 (1978) , and Kentucky v. Whorton, 441 U.S. 786 (1979) , CULS, law.cornell.edu
v. Hearings before the Presidents Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Volume XVIII, Exhibit 910 American Embassy telegram, p. 105
vi. Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of PresidentJohn F. Kennedy, Appendix 15, the Loan from the State Department, pp. 770-73
vii. Letter from J. Edgar Hoover to the Department of State, Subject: Lee Harvey Oswald/Internal Security, June 3, 1960, p. 2, 3. National Archives and Records Administration Identification Number: 124-10010-10011
viii. Who was Lee Harvey Oswald? - Twenty Four Years Chronology (n.d.), pbs.com
ix. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Vol. XVII, Ex. 833, United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation Memo from Hoover to Rankin, April 6, 1964
x. President's Commission Executive Session, January 22, 1964, p. 6
xi. Pres. Com. Exec. Session, January 27, 1964, pp. 143, 144
xii. Robert Blakey and Richard N Billings, “The Plot to Kill the President: Organized Crime Assassinated J.F.K, the definitive story”, Times Books, 1981, p. 121
xiii. United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect To Intelligence Activities, Bk.5, Part I, Performance of the Intelligence Agencies, Summary and Findings, pp. 6, 7
xiv. Report of the Pres. Comm., Chapter 4, the Assassin, Oswald's rifle practice outside the Marines, p. 192
xv. Report of the Pres. Com., Chapter 4 the Assassin, Ownership and possession of assassination weapon, p. 125
xvi. Hearings of the President's Commission, Volume XXVI, Commission Exhibit 2974, p. 455
xvii. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Volume XXV, Commission Exhibit 2559, pp. 797-98
xviii. Senate Select Comm. on Intelligence Activities Report, Bk. 5, Part V, Summary and Findings p. 77
xix. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations, Report Book 5: Performance of the Intelligence Agencies I., Summary and Findings, p. 34
xx. Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives -Exhibits and Transcripts Section I. Part C, subsection 4, subpart f , Carlos Marcello, p. 169 (House Select Committee Report, HSCA Report), The National Archives, March 29, 1979, archives.gov
xxi. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, Interim Report, Part 3, Section B Cuba, Subsection 1 The Assassination Plots, pp. 71-90
xxii. H. Bradford Westerfield, Richard M Bissell (n.d.), Reflections of A Cold Warrior review – From Yalta to the Bay of Pigs, cia.gov
xxiii. Hearings of the President's Commission, Vol. XIX, Decker Exhibit No. 5323, Statement of Austin Miller, p. 485
xxiv. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Vol. XXII, Commission Exhibit No. 1420, Statement of Thomas Murphy, p. 835
xxv. President's Commission Document 205, FBI Report of 23 December 1963 re: Oswald, Statement of Roberta Parker, December 16, 1963
xxvi. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Vol. XIX, Commission Exhibit No. 5323, Statement of Jean Newman, November 22, 1963
xxvii. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Vol. XIX, Decker Exhibit No. 5323, Statement of A.J. Millican, p. 486
xxviii. Hearings of the Pres Com., Vol. VI, Testimony of Bill Lovelady, p. 338-339
xxix. Hearings of the Pres.Com., Vol.VI, Testimony of Ronald B Fischer, p. 195
xxx. Hearings of the Pres. Com, Vol. XXI, Sorrels Exhibit No. 5, Statement of Forrest Sorrels, November 28, 1963
xxxi. President's Commission Document 5, Federal Bureau of Investigation Gemberling Report regarding: Oswald, Statement of O.V. Lee, November 30, 1963, p. 336
xxxii. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. XXII, Com. Ex. No. 1381, Statement of Dorothy Ann Garner, p. 648
xxxiii. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol XXII, Com. Ex. No. 1381, Statement of Danny Arce, p. 634
xxxiv. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol XXII, Com. Ex. No. 1381, Statement of J. M. Smith, p. 600
Edited: January 2019
A Flawed Investigation